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Pensioner found in the sea at St Margaret's Bay near Dover was being investigated by police, inquest reveals


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An 81-year-old man whose body was found in the sea was being investigated by police for historic offences, an inquest has heard.

Charles Banyard left his home in Deal on July 2 after being informed of a fresh allegation made against him.

Charles Banyard's body was recovered from the sea at St Margaret's Bay on the morning of July 3 2020. Picture: Nigel Thornton
Charles Banyard's body was recovered from the sea at St Margaret's Bay on the morning of July 3 2020. Picture: Nigel Thornton

When the retired BT engineer did not return after six hours, his partner of 13 years alerted his son who reported him missing to the police.

That evening, officers located his car on the cliffs and the following morning his body was recovered from the sea, close to the shore, at St Margaret's Bay.

At an inquest at the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone today, assistant coroner for central and south east Kent, Ian Brownhill considered a conclusion of suicide, particularly in light of a document which suggested suicidal ideation found during a search of his address in February 2018.

But he rejected it on a lack of evidence such as a suicide note.

He said: "I give a narrative conclusion that Mr Charles Banyard was the subject on an ongoing police investigation and no decision was taken as to whether he would be charged.

"On July 2 he was notified of a new allegation and left his home. His car was found on the cliffs.

"He died of multiple injuries consistent with falling from the cliff."

Toxicologist reports showed Mr Banyard had consumed some alcohol but it was less than the drive drink limit.

Investigating officer DS Anthony Welch from Folkestone Police Station told the hearing that officers were called to St Margaret's Bay on the morning on July 3 after a number of calls about an object in the water. HM Coastguard and the ambulance service also attended.

The inquest was held at Archbishops Palace in Maidstone Picture: Andy Jones
The inquest was held at Archbishops Palace in Maidstone Picture: Andy Jones

A decision was made by officers to recover the body which was found to be unclothed and with no possessions.

He explained that officers thought they knew the identity of the man based on a "high risk missing person" reported the previous day. Their suspicions were confirmed by finger print and his next of kin were informed.

Mr Banyard was described as a suspect in a long running investigation but at the time of his death was not on police bail and had been released under investigation.

He was first arrested in 2016 on suspicion of historic offences, which his partner said caused "a lot of stress" for both of them.

In written evidence, she explained that his last correspondence with officers had been about six weeks prior to his death when he was told that evidence was being passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Assistant coroner Mr Brownhill stated: "He hadn't entered the criminal justice systems, he hadn't been charged and he wasn't on indictment."

On July 2, a police officer attended the property to inform his partner of the new allegation. But, his partner said in her evidence, he had been advised that it was "unlikely to progress".

She described feeling "shocked and upset" but the pair ate lunch and he left the home about 4pm saying he was going to the newsagents to place an advert in the window that his bike was for sale.

He had also told her: "This is not my world."

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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